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Faith & You: What to do when feeling stuck -- Terry Pluto

August 17, 2018

Faith & You: What to do when feeling stuck -- Terry Pluto

CLEVELAND, Ohio — “I keep looking back at my life and wondering what I did wrong.”

Susan (not her real name) mentioned that to me.

She had been telling me about her recent health issues, a trip to the hospital when Crohn’s disease acted up. She also had other internal problems.

She has dealt with these problems for decades.

“When I was younger, I slept with a couple of married guys,” she said. “A long time ago, I did some cocaine...”

Her voice trailed off.

It’s been many years since she slept with married guys. It was a long time ago when she used drugs.

But sometimes when we’re under physical and emotional stress, we circle back to what we did wrong years ago.

So much of life is a spiritual battle.

It’s why a broken heart seems to take so much longer to heal than a broken arm or leg.

I began to talk to Kay about forgiveness. She believes in God. On one level, she believes God has forgiven her. But she finds it hard to forgive herself.

One of my favorite Bible verses is 2 Corinthians 5:17: “If anyone is in Christ, that person is a new creation. The old has gone, the new is here.”

I mentioned that to her.

She DID those things...past tense.

She is NOT those things today. God is not punishing her through her health problems. We talked quite a while about that...who she was vs. who she is today.

And she had changed...for the better.

BEING STUCK

For several weeks, I’ve been teaching a series to the guys at Summit County Jail about “Being Stuck.”

We started with Cain and Abel, how Cain was stuck on jealousy and bitterness toward his brother.

Fact: At some point, everyone is stuck on something.

When I said that, one of the men mentioned having a broken heart about not being able to have a last conversation with his mother before she died.

Many of us carry something like that around.

“I should have been there,” we say.

Maybe we should have been there.

A former good friend from high school reached out to me a few years ago. We hadn’t talked for a long time. I had his number. I kept it by the phone. Several months went by.

Then I received word that he had suddenly died.

I looked at the number, a few tears in my eyes.

I should have called...but didn’t.

When those feelings of regret come, I have to battle them on a spiritual level.

OUR REAL ENEMY

I believe we have a spiritual enemy. The Bible calls it Satan.

Isn’t it easy to turn a two-minute conversation into a two-hour reality show in our heads.

We go over...

And over...

And over...

The same stuff, and often it’s just stupid stuff. Or it’s stuff we can’t fix...like missing a chance at a last conversation.

There are times when I stop and pray, “Lord, I’m getting stuck on stupid...I need you to free me.”

Sometimes, I hear, “Get off yourself and go to work.”

That can be anything from my job to working out to calling or visiting someone.

GETTING FREE

There are people who don’t want to hear about spiritual battles or anything that hints of the biblical view of Satan.

But there are so many reasons people who are stuck begin to self-medicate. We can do it with everything from alcohol to drugs to pornography to gambling to obsessively watching certain shows for hours at a time.

We sense we are in a battle and we want relief. But we don’t want to face the real enemy.

A person can pray alone. A person can also reach out to someone to pray together.

At church, some people stick around after the service to pray...but probably not as many as should, given the battles we face.

When someone tells you about a problem, say, “Let’s pray about it right now.”

The prayer can be quick and quiet, especially in a public place. But do it.

One of the most dangerous ways to stay stuck is to never tell anyone about it.

Obviously, you need to be careful about some subjects.

But Susan opening up about her health issues and doubts led to a discussion and a quick prayer that did bring her some relief.

It’s also why the proper type of counseling can help. I also think the Catholic sacrament of confession is very valuable to some people.

We all get stuck on something, sometimes.

Now we need to know we can’t always face it alone.

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